The Top 6 Roads You Have to Drive On Your Next New Zealand Road Trip

Skippers.jpg

Getting down to us here in New Zealand is easy enough, but knowing where to go and what roads to take in order to pull off the most scenic and memorable road trip once you are here can be overwhelming. We may be a small country, but there are many roads to take. So, we thought we would share some our favourite journeys with you to help make your search that little touch easier. 

 

Skippers Canyon

Undeniably an “experience” and just kilometres from Active HQ here in Queenstown, Skippers Canyon is a narrow backcountry road carved out by miners. Not for the faint-hearted though, this single lane drive drops in behind Coronet Peak, one of New Zealand’s main ski fields, and descends towards the historical Skippers settlement once home to miners and their families during the gold rush. With steep sheer drop-offs along the way, we recommend checking this one out through a local company as most car insurers won’t have you covered for it!

 

The Crown Range

The Crown Range, also known as the gateway between Queenstown and Wanaka, is the highest sealed road in all New Zealand.  Like switchbacks along a hiking trail, the road zig-zags its way up into the clouds, quite literally, towards some of the most jaw-dropping viewpoints as you look back over Queenstown and its surrounding peaks. As you make your way back down through the valley, be sure to keep an eye out on your left for the Cardrona Hotel, or the Cardrona Pub as it’s more commonly known. If you’ve got a little bit of room in your tum, we suggest you tuck your tastebuds into some frickles (deep-fried dill pickles) or the fully-loaded wedges (Hannah from HQ swears by them!). 

 

The Road to Glenorchy

We all agree here at Active that the road to Glenorchy is not only one of the most beautiful roads in New Zealand, but one of the most beautiful roads in the world. As you set out towards Paradise (yes, this is a real place name here in NZ), you’ll overlook the far end of Lake Wakatipu and pass many of our favourite wee day hikes.  If you have time and are keen to give your legs a stretch, we recommend hiking the Mt Crichton loop or checking out Bobs Cove. You’ll soon discover why this is one of the area’s best-kept secrets as you emerge to find perfect patches of turquoise blue waters which contrast beautifully with the seemingly endless bush line. 

 

Drive to Tawharanui

If you only have a short time and are looking for a scenic drive from Auckland, then you’d better head up North! Within just over an hour you’ll leave the big smoke in your dust and pass numerous quirks from real fruit ice cream stands and quaint antique stores to local produce markets. You’ll then find yourself passing over the cattle stops of private farmlands and at one of the North Island’s finest stretches of beach, completely taken over by native Pohutukawa trees and beautiful birdlife. With numerous strolls just a tiptoe from the water, we promise that the road trip to Tawharanui Regional Park will not disappoint. 

 

Desert Road

One of the best driving roads in the North Island would most certainly have to be the Desert Road. You’ll soon feel like you’ve landed on the moon, as you enter New Zealand’s volcanic plateau. Keep your eyes peeled for army tanks and vehicles in the distance as this barren desert is also home to the training base of the New Zealand military. You won’t want to give all your attention to trying to spot these guys though, as the views themselves are not to be missed! Glance out through golden tussocks to the horizon where you’ll find three of our most active volcanic peaks - Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu. We truly believe you’ll thank us for this one. 

 

Road to Raglan

And lastly, if you’re wanting to take some of New Zealand’s back roads and want to be rewarded with one of the best coastal drives in the world along the way, you’d better make your way to Raglan. Just be sure to pull off at Pokeno for an ice cream on route. If you’re game enough, they do whopping big 12 scoops!  Once you’ve refuelled the bod and perhaps the car too, you’ll hit the countryside, rolling through green hills and past plenty of sheep. Yes, we have a lot them… more than our human population so they say. You’ll then arrive in Raglan, a gorgeous seaside town dotted with surfers and summery vibes. 

 

Related Posts

Where to Travel in 2022: Top Adventure Trip for Each Month

So, you're ready to make 2022 a year of incredible…

Adventure Travel to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know

Photo by Kamchatka/Getty Images

With coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean…

Safe Travel in 2021: Why Small Group Adventure Travel is the New Normal

It's no secret that since March of 2020, the travel…

Keeping Up With Our New Zealand Guides

You’ve heard us say it before, and you’ll hear us…

Northern Patagonia vs Southern Patagonia : How to Choose

Planning a trip to Patagonia but can't decide whether to…

Podcast - Our Guest Ally Talks With Kit Parks About her Mighty Five 'Pika' Adventure

Listen to Kit Parks, from Active Travel Adventures, discuss with…

Top 5 Open Destinations to Visit in 2022: Where Can Americans Travel?

The light at the end of the tunnel is finally…

5 Perfect Tours to Replace Your Cancelled REI Adventure Overseas

Your REI adventure tour overseas just got cancelled? We're sorry…

North Island vs South Island of New Zealand: How to Pick?

New Zealand (or Aotearoa as it's known in the Maori…

The Eight Best Things to Do in the Dolomites, Italy

Pictures of the towering rock monoliths of the Italian Dolomites…

Top five things to do in Grand Teton National Park

Found yourself in Wyoming with your hiking boots? Here’s some…

Multi-Day Hike Packing-List for New Zealand

You and some mates have 4 (5 at a stretch)…

Where to Next, with Active Adventures?

We've been adventuring for more than 22 years now, and…

Top things to do in Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park is a hiker's paradise and a…

Podcast: Stan Jacobson talks with Kit about his 'Annapurna Sanctuary Trek' in the Himalayas

 

5 Stars x 3“I rated this as 5 stars, "Excellent,…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the South Island of New Zealand (Part I)

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the South Island of New Zealand (Part II)

 

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the North Island of New Zealand (Part III)

 

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Podcast: Sue Brickey and Rick Pope talk with Kit about their 'Chinchilla' adventure (Part I)

 

More Than I Expected“I only did three days of the…

Podcast: Sue Brickey and Rick Pope talk with Kit about their 'Chinchilla' adventure (Part II)

A varietal overview of Bolivia

“Such a diverse opportunity to experience…

Things to Do in Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park was formed after local conservationist Perrine…

Video: Reviews from our guests

Many of our videos feature interviews with Active guests, and…

Video: Safari Adventures in Africa

Come on a journey with us to the wildest place…

Video : Choosing a pair of hiking boots

A lot of our guests wonder how to pick the…

Mont Blanc Circuit 'Tour du Mont Blanc' Trip

Our 'Tour du Mont Blanc' trip is a challenging hiking…

Video: Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park is New Zealand's biggest National Park, and…

Punakaiki

Famous for its 'Pancake Rocks', Punakaiki is also host to…

Our Favourite Hikes on the West Coast of New Zealand

The West Coast of the South Island is a unique…

Things do Do in Queenstown for Non-Adrenaline Junkies

The first thing that probably comes to mind when you…

New Zealand Glaciers You Can Easily Hike To

Many travellers to New Zealand are familiar with our 2…

Things to Do in Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch, the 'Garden City', is where the majority of our…

Peru's Rainbow Mountain and the 'Camino del Apu Ausangate' Lodge to Lodge Trek

The beautiful coloured striations of Rainbow Mountain in Peru's Andes…

Inca Trail vs. Lares Trail: How to Get the Most out of Your Adventure

As you plan your trip to Peru and to Machu…

Discover Queenstown, The Adventure Capital of New Zealand

Queenstown is a little town with a big personality. Nestled on…

7 New Zealand Must-Sees You Can't Go Wrong With!

If you're looking for the best natural destinations in New…

Top 10 Things to Do in Peru During Your Trip

There is so much to see when visiting Peru, it…

Little City Guide to Copacabana, Bolivia

Wedged between two mountains, Copacabana is a small and colourful…

Little Guide to Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni is the land of the endless horizon, home to…

Video: Franz Josef Glacier and Township

'Glacier country' - the west side of Aoraki/Mt Cook National…

Video: Ultimate South Island Adventure 'Rimu' trip

The 'Rimu' is our signature New Zealand trip. 14 days…

Patagonia Hiking Adventure 'Condor'

Patagonia is a mystical land of glaciers, mountains, and often…

Ultimate North Island Adventure 'Kauri' Trip

Our 'Kauri' trip is 11 days on New Zealand's volcanic…

Video: The trek to Everest Base Camp

Gareth Leonard from Tourist2Townie travelled on our 'EBC' adventure, here's…

Video: Essence of the South Island 'Tui' Trip

Our Essence of the South Island 'Tui' trip is 8…

Ultimate Peru Adventure 'Jaguar' Trip

Dreaming of a Peru adventure? Our 'Jaguar' is our signature…

Travel to Nepal: Everything you need to know

We're big believers in the journey being just as important…

Is it safe to visit Nepal?

There is nothing more exciting than planning a new adventure…

When is the best time to visit Nepal?

So, you’ve decided you want to go to Nepal? Or…

Nepal Culture and Customs

How Not to Be Mistaken for a Tourist in NepalUnderstanding…

The Full Guide to Nepal’s Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

Celebrated for its amphitheatre of giant granite peaks, the Annapurna…

Hiking in Nepal: Multi-Day Treks

To hikers and trekkers from all over the world, the…

Everything You Need to Know About the Annapurna Massif

The Annapurna Massif is as epic as you imagine it…

Challenge Your Trekking Guide With These Everest Base Camp Facts

Everest Base Camp represents either an origin or a destination…

Nepal’s Everest Base Camp Guided Trekking Tour Itinerary

A trek to Everest Base Camp is a ‘bucket list’…

Popular Religious Sites in Nepal

Nepal is a cultural mecca, it is architecturally rich with…

Learn About Lukla and its World Famous Airport

Lukla is found in north-east Nepal and sits at 2,860m…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

This really is one for the bucket list, so you'll…

Things to Do in Patagonia: Discover the Top Adventure Spots

Patagonia is synonymous with intense rugged beauty and you won't…

Multi-Day Hiking in New Zealand: How to Plan the Perfect Trip for You

New Zealand has earned itself a reputation as one of…

The Complete Guide to New Zealand's 10 Great Walks

The "Great Walks" are generally regarded as New Zealand's premier…

Sea Kayaking in New Zealand

Sea kayaking tours are a splendid way to enjoy New…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2014

Set your resolution, adjust your white balance, focus, keep still,…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2015

Photo competitions. They're not necessarily a good thing for an…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2016

Happy New Year everybody! We love this annual photography competition…

How to Prepare for a Hike: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

“Am I too out-of-shape for an adventure trip?” It’s the…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2017

Hello and Happy New Year! There are certain things that…

Our Guides Take On the Everest Marathon

Our guides are pretty amazing people. They're understanding, adaptable, enthusiastic,…

Interesting Peru Facts

Are you about or thinking to head out to Peru?…

5 Reasons to Take up Adventure Travel in Your 40’s

You mean you haven’t already done it yet? That’s OK.…

The 7 Peruvian Drinks You Can't Miss on Your Trip

Just as Peru is a land of diverse and delicious…

Huayna Picchu Hike: How Fit Must you be to Climb?

So you've made it up to Machu Picchu. After months…

Inca Trail Packing List: The 12 Most Important Items and Why

You've done it… You've finally decided to go hiking the…

The 7 Most Beautiful Lakes On the South Island of New Zealand

A trip to New Zealand's South Island isn't complete unless…

15 Bucket List Activities to do in South America

We've been running trips in South America for over a decade…

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Peru

When someone mentions Peru images of idyllic mountain pastures, ancient Incan…

How to prevent and deal with Altitude Sickness

Most hikers will never experience altitude sickness, (sometimes called acute…

The Top 20 Things to Do in Peru - That Aren't Machu Picchu!

Let's be honest - it probably shouldn't come as much…

Best Day Hikes in New Zealand

As a small island nation, New Zealand is an absolute…

Multi-day Hiking in New Zealand's Backcountry, and 8 Reasons to Go Guided

The team here at Active Adventures are an outdoorsy bunch!…

Things to Do in Machu Picchu: How to Get the Most out of Your Experience

Although it's one of the most well-known archaeological wonders of…

Top 4 Facts About the Himalayas That Will Take Your Breath Away

When visiting the Himalayas, you'll get as much of a…

Why Joining a Small Group Tour is the Bee's Knees

I better start by explaining the term ‘Bee’s knees’… I’ve been doing…

The Top 10 Things To Do in New Zealand

Are you planning a vacation in the land of the…

The Top 4 Things To Do In The Peruvian Amazon

Stretching 96,922 square kilometres across the country, the Amazon comprises…

Pisac Market and Hike to Pisac Ruins

The village is perched high in the mountains and surrounded…

Mustang Adventure 2018: Trip of a Lifetime for Body, Mind and Soul

When thinking about hiking in Nepal, a lot of people…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2018

New year, new…. annual photo competition winner! Here at Active…

Benefits of Travelling Alone & Tips to Plan Like a Pro

Solo travel is on the rise and we’re stoked about…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2019

It's that time of year again folks, it's our annual…